Fallout 76 so far from the perspective of a gaming developer

fallout 5 - Fallout 76 so far from the perspective of a gaming developer

So, we all know that this game has had some heated debate, and while there are some fans who love it so far, there is alot of negative ranting and raving, and some of it is deserved, and some of it frankly isn't. I wish to look at the good and the bad of this game so far from the perspective of someone who designs this stuff for a living. This post will have good and bad, and some of the stuff I say will be the same as a thousand posts we've already seen, but I am aiming to look at this as a player and as an industry professional at the same time, so some of you might find the perspective interesting. If not, probably turn away at this point because this is going to be a nerdy wall of text.

The good-

For starters, Bethesda did a really good job taking a single player game, and making it multi player while keeping the essence of the game intact. Yeah it had a million problems at launch, but as an over all product they did deliver us a bonafide fallout game, and trust me when I tell you how hard it is to go from single player to multi player without losing alot of what made your game great in the process. Bugs and glitches aside, the core product is an A+ from me. When this game was announced there was alot of talk in the dev community about how the hell is bethesda going to do this while keeping the game mainstream in the process? (What I mean by mainstream, is as a dystopian survival game, it would be easy to make this game a hardcore survival game like Rust or any of the many zombie survival games out there, but those games are small player base, very steep learning curve, not casual gamer freindly at all, etc etc. We knew Bethesda would not go that way, so keeping it casual but still fallout was very impressive)

The perk system is very cool, not to get to nerdy, but for the most part they looked at the past 3 fallout games, took the perks we needed, and left the rest. Now that is not to say that there are not issues with perks, most that is mostly bug related or item balance related, the perks themselves once they all work as intended, is a system that is nicely done. Why this benefits the players is that once the bugs all pretty much gone and Bethesda gets to the point where they are balancing damage, armor, etc, the balance will be stream lined. An issue players generally have with developers is they feel devs miss the mark on nerfs, buffs, etc. While sometimes the devs do just straight up screw up, an issue with balance is that it comes from so many sources. Its not like, ok add 5 damage to this, remove 2 damage from this, and add 20 hp to that, and bam were balanced. The reason at that point your probably still not balanced is the variables, in this example 1 item gained damage, but another item gained hp, while another item lost damage, so the OP item that lost 2 damage because was strong, might be a little weak now because an armor peice that was under powered just gained 20 hp. So maybe we need to revert it back to where it was, maybe we need to tweak the hp increase, etc etc. Maybe while we are balancing these 3 items, other items get indirect buffs/nerfs and then we need to go balance them, which risks screwing up the changes we made to these 3 initial items, etc etc. As you can see, its a mess, and balancing even 1 or 2 items in a game with 100+ items can quickly become a rabbit hole. So when you have less variables, in this case a balanced perk system, its 1 less thing that needs to be tweaked, and since every tweak you make in 1 spot runs the risk of breaking something in another spot, the less tweaks you have to make, the quicker stuff gets balanced. So the bugs will get sorted, and over time weapons/armor will get balanced, and thanks to a nice perk system; balance will happen sooner rather than later. My one piece of advice is a system to quick swap cards, so I don't have to waste so much time swapping cards so I can hack that terminal, or just make hacking, lock picking, and build/repair perks passive so that you do not need to swap to them ever. This won't break the game since no one walks around with these cards active anyway except when they are leveling up.

Now we get to content, and this is the point in the post where I am going to get flamed really hard, but hear me out. Now any multi player game no matter how much day 1 content it has, gets played out pretty quick until expansions and dlcs and free content packs come out, which Bethesda had promised that they will be adding alot of free content. That being said, for an out of the box game, it does have a pretty good amount of content in it. Alot of the community wants to complain that there is nothing to do, but then you look at their reddit posting history and these are the same people looking for this weeks launch codes, and looking for min/max guides to everything, and how to glitch infinite caps, and how to afk power level yourself to lvl 250 while your asleep, etc etc. If your actually playing the content that they put in the game, and not just server hopping for a nuke site in white springs or glassed cavern, or cycling for the 3 events you run, there is actually alot to do. Go get your own launch codes, run all the events, go contest work benches, go drop your stuff off into your stash, go wanted, and take all comers. That being said, I do feel there is a lack of group based content, and group based pvp. I think come instanced pvp zones where 2 or more squads brawl it out would be awesome. More squad based content other then just glassed cavern would be nice. So yes, we need more content, but ultimately we need more varied content for groups, if your a solo player or solo/duo then you should not be having an issue getting content. Guys who pretty much only play in full squads, yeah I do feel your pain and Bethesda did drop the ball here a little bit. Bethesa please give us squad pvp battlegrounds. Plus side to squad pvp, is it is a cheat code from a dev perspective, because if you are constantly pvping, then you need to repair gear, get stims, etc. So in off hours you will need to grind mats, stims, etc when you get low so that you can fuel the habit. Granted this could create a culture of "I do PVE just so I can PVP" but frankly games with a fueling the pvp habit generally work anyway, so frankly I see this as a net gain for the game.

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The bad-

The entire armor system in game honestly needs a rework (note here, I am talking about the way armor works and how damage reduction is calculated, not the armor pieces themselves). For those that are unaware of how it works, in fallout if you take 2 guns, 1 does 40 damage a shot, and 1 does 20 damage a shot, and you hit someone wearing armor, the gun that does 40 damage will be alot more damage in 1 shot then the 20 damage gun would do in 2 shots. The higher the armor count goes, the more exacerbated the problem gets. Eventually the 40 damage gun does more damage in 1 shot then the 20 damage gun does in 3 shots, then 4, then 5, etc etc as the targets armor gets higher and highe'sr through better gear. In essence this makes low damage, high rate of fire guns basically a waste of ammo. Automatics in FO games have pretty much always sucked because of this, but its really coming out in FO76 because single player had different nuances to it that allowed us to make things work. It was a big mistake for Bethesda to use the armor system from the single player fallout games and bring it to a multi player game, because in single player there is no balance issue to letting a player carry alot of weapons, so yeah mini guns suck vs BoS paladins in their t60 power armor, but the missile launcher can 1 shot them so I just switch to that. Then you can switch back to the minigun to spray the BoS guys who forgot to bring power armor to the fight. However, in a multi player game, 1: you don't want players walking around with 7 weapons in their inventory because you will literally never ever balance the game that way, and 2: in a game like this you don't want alpha mechanics (100 to 0 in 1 shot) espiecally not AoE alpha mechanics because it will just frustrate the players to no end. Alpha mechanics work in a game like League of Legends because burst damage is a day 1 mechanic and a pivot point of how the game is balanced. It also serves an important purpose in that game. In a game like fallout, which doesn't have crazy out play physics, letting missiles and sniper rifles 1 shot people in high end armor is just going to ruin the game. So we need an armor system that doesn't make miniguns near useless, while simultaneously not letting us get alpha'd off the battlefield by a sniper rifle or a super sledge while rocking fully modded X-01. I am not advocating a League of Legends style armor system, but that would fix the problems we currently have, it may add problems in other areas though, so this is an area where Bethesda needs to innovate and create something unique. I mean jesus christ the nerds over at activision made their own armor system for Destiny 2 that pretty much just works, so if they can figure it out then this should be cake for Bethesda.

Weapons are also busted, but alot of it come from the above issue, combined with some bugs related to perks and damage application. Once the bugs are all gone, and the armor system gets a revamp, the weapon system will be in a much better place. Yeah some raw stats need to be changed, some of the weapons are so bad they are just frankly unusable, but as other issues get fixed the weapons will indirectly be in a much better spot. I think it will be a while before we get true balance here, the key element is watching how Bethesda proceeds. They are working well on bugs/glitches so we have not seen a ton of balance yet, so until we see it we do not know how good they will be at it. I think they will get it right after a few passes.

Bugs, glitches, etc. Now I have no idea why this is, but Bethesda is famous for day 1 bugs and glitches and generally bad quality of life until fixes come (anyone remember how cancer it was to climb a mountain in earlier Bethesda games?) FO76 was no exception, and I make zero excuses on why they do this, but they do and I expected it. I even told alot of my gamer friends to not even bother playing FO76 for the first month because it will be a mess and people will be rage quitting left and right. It is very sad that they are this predictable, but it is on them to fix that reputation. Now what I can say is that they are doing a relatively good job fixing stuff as time goes on, were a month in at this point and the game is way smoother so props to them for putting in the effort to fix this game. Sadly because of how bad the glitches and bugs are, its tough to rate the rest of the game because everything comes down to a "once they fix the bugs ……solution".

Art and ambiance are a weird one here, because on the one hand, they nailed the art and ambiance, at the same time they kinda just copy and pasted from FO4, so they got kind of lazy here. The no NPC thing alot of you are upset about, from an artistic stand point it is kind of cool and as far as I know has never been done in a casual multi player game like this, so it is interesting, but like anything art/ambiance related, it will never make everyone happy. I like it honestly, but effort does need to be shown here. The worst part is I have worked with guys who got hired for Bethesda's art team, I know they have one of the best art teams in the industry, so why are they working on other projects and not on this?

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On pvp, we need more, not going to go into this to much. There is more pvp than alot of you guys make it out to be, but still it is lacking, nuff said here.

Quality of Life: This is getting bold because to be honest I feel like this is where Bethesda dropped the ball the most, and I could go on and on forever but I will keep it short. Between swapping perks to unlock a door, to cap cost to fast travel despite the cap rewards for an event barely covering your travel cost half the time, to stash size, to item weight, I mean I could go on forever. Now over time they are working on this, so bravo, but they really need to work on this a little harder. Its great that at this point they are nyxing cap glitches every few days when one comes up, but feel free to give us a good way to make caps outside of chain farming the scorchbeast queen. Stash size is still an issue, they admit it, but just fix it. No we should not have infinite stash size, nor should junk weigh 0 or any of the other wacky ideas that people have, but there has to be balance. You should not have the space to have everything but as is I have enough inventory space and stash size for 4 weapons, ammo, junk, and 1 set of power armor. I don't even have a non power armor set of armor because I have no room for it. Nor can I store a second set of power armor for when for x-01 set gets wrecked or when I'm doing content that the BoS set works better for. Nah I had to scrap my BoS set because I legit cannot store it. I am going to stop here before I get ranty, but you get the point, quality of life changes need to be had. Why did we have to wait weeks for push to talk when that should have been an automatic thing? Legit what was bethesda thinking? Plus I'm on discord with my squad and I had to mute them in game every single time we played. Sorry I said I would stop, im stopping. Oh and do not buy any of their "were doing this for now to test server response" BS, they have a good server network and are just penny pinching here.

So while I could go on, I don't want to get super dev nerdy about this, I want this to be somewhat simple and while this game has alot of issues, 95 percent or more would be resolved directly or indirectly by what I relayed above. I do think that good things will happen for FO76, I am really excited about them and I firmly believe that Bethesda is going to give us a finished product that we are all going to love. I feel like they didn't really try because they thought brand recognition would give them the sales they needed. It happened with ESO, and they got away with it, this time they weren't so lucky and now they have to do work. ESO also had a cool battlefield pvp system and that honestly gave players so much content that they didn't care about other issues with the game, with FO76 that was not the case and tbh they should have launched the game with instanced pvp battlegrounds because many of us would be happier despite the bugs. It is slow now, but I think in a month or 2 we are going to be in for a really nice surprise with a quality game. I can tell you that soft sales combined with alot of returns has put Bethesda in a spot where they have to answer to investors, so they are going to get us the product we want. I hope you guys enjoy my commentary, and if you want me to be super nerdy and elaborate on anything, feel free.

On a side note, can we stop griefing newbies by standing in front of them on purpose while they are shooting a molerat? If you want to be a pvp try hard go play counter strike or pubg, K Thanks.

TL:DR Bethesda just didn't try, but they are working hard to get us a good product. Yeah it will be late, but good things are in store. AMA

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